Rocklin police capture suspected catalytic converter thieves

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Four people were arrested Sunday after reportedly trying to flee Rocklin after a catalytic converter crime spree.

At around 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13, the Rocklin Police Department received a call about a possible theft that had just occurred at the Century Theaters on Lonetree Boulevard. The victim and his friends had just watched a movie at the theater and were returning to their vehicles in the parking lot. When the victim started his engine remotely using a wireless remote starter on his keychain, he saw several subjects scurry out from under his vehicle, according to a report from the Rocklin PD. The subjects quickly got into another vehicle and fled. The victim obtained a good description of the vehicle and a partial license plate, which he reported to Rocklin dispatch.

Rocklin police officers responded immediately and began searching the area for the suspect vehicle. A vehicle matching the description was located by officers on Highway 65, headed out of the Rocklin toward Interstate 80. Officers pulled the vehicle over and one of the passengers reportedly jumped out of the vehicle and ran into a creek area near Atlantic Street and Wills Road in Roseville. The passenger was found by officers hiding in the bushes and was taken into custody. The remaining three suspects in the car surrendered to police.

The officers located burglary tools and stolen property inside the vehicle — including about a dozen catalytic converters, the report said. Around the same time, reports of the thefts had begun streaming into the Rocklin Police Communications Center. So far, four of the victims have reported their catalytic converters stolen. The suspects had apparently made their rounds through Rocklin — including stealing at least two converters from vehicles parked in a church parking lot on Granite Drive, the report added.

Benjamin Rodriguez, 32, of Stockton, who is on parole, was booked on felony charges of grand theft, conspiracy and possession of stolen property, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of burglary tools.

Lee Marvin Nelson, 21, and Brandon Leroy Brokl, 21, both of Stockton, were booked on the same charges, as was Rhota Vin, 23, of Stockton, who also faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

Rocklin police believe there are other victims who may be unaware their catalytic converters have been taken. All of the suspects arrested were from Stockton, the report said, so their crime spree could span into multiple jurisdictions. If you believe you have been a victim of a recent catalytic converter theft, call your local law enforcement agency or the Rocklin Police Department at 625-5400.